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Influence of Motor Imagery Modality on First-Serve Performance in Tennis Players

Dominique Laurent, Robbin Carien, and Nicolas Robin

Motor imagery (MI) is frequently used in tennis players. This pilot study aimed to assess whether the MI modality and preference of skilled tennis players could influence their service performance when using MI before serving first balls. Twenty expert players (M age = 18.6 years) completed the movement imagery questionnaire (third version) to assess their MI modality scores (internal visual, external visual, and kinesthetic) and their MI preference. Participants completed 4 experimental counterbalanced sessions spread over 4 weeks, each including the completion of 20 first-serve balls in match condition. The sessions included a control condition (i.e., only physical practice trials) and three MI conditions during which the players had to mentally imagine themselves performing a serve according to one of the imagery modalities, either internal visual, external visual, or kinesthetic, before serving. The percentage of success, the speed of the service balls (measured by a tablet with SWING VISION and a radar gun), and an efficiency score were recorded and then evaluated by experts and served as performance indicators and dependent variables. The results of this study showed that players benefited from MI before serving and that almost a third of the participants achieved a higher percentage of success and efficiency scores when using their preferred MI modality. These results lead us, in an applied way, to suggest to skilled tennis players to determine their MI preference and to have recourse to the mental simulation of a successful serve before serving the first balls in match condition.

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A Study of the Effects of Motor Experience on Neuromuscular Control Strategies During Sprint Starts

Zhengye Pan, Lushuai Liu, Yuan Sun, and Yunchao Ma

Much of the current research on sprint start has attempted to analyze the biomechanical characteristics of elite athletes to provide guidance on the training of sprint technique, with less attention paid to the effects of motor experience gained from long-term training on neuromuscular control characteristics. The present study attempted to investigate the effect of motor experience on the modular organization of the neuromuscular system during starting, based on he clarification of the characteristics of muscle synergies during starting. It was found that exercise experience did not promote an increase in the number of synergies but rather a more focused timing of the activation of each synergy, allowing athletes to quickly complete the postural transition from crouching to running during the starting.

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Response of Knee Joint Biomechanics to Landing Under Internal and External Focus of Attention in Female Volleyball Players

Lukáš Slovák, David Zahradník, William M. Land, Javad Sarvestan, Joseph Hamill, and Reza Abdollahipour

The aim of this study was to examine the effect of attentional focus instructions on the biomechanical variables associated with the risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury of the knee joint during a drop landing task using a time series analysis. Ten female volleyball players (age: 20.4 ± 0.8 years, height: 169.7 ± 7.1 cm, mass: 57.6 ± 3.1 kg, experience: 6.3 ± 0.8 years) performed landings from a 50 cm height under three different attentional focus conditions: (1) external focus (focus on landing as soft as possible), (2) internal focus (focus on bending your knees when you land), and (3) control (no-focus instruction). Statistical parameter mapping in the sagittal plane during the crucial first 30% of landing time showed a significant effect of attentional focus instructions. Despite the similarity in landing performance across foci instructions, adopting an external focus instruction promoted reduced vertical ground reaction force and lower sagittal flexion moment during the first 30% of execution time compared to internal focus, suggesting reduced knee loading. Therefore, adopting an external focus of attention was suggested to reduce most biomechanical risk variables in the sagittal plane associated with anterior cruciate ligament injuries, compared to internal focus and control condition. No significant differences were found in the frontal and horizontal planes between the conditions during this crucial interval.

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Treating Dystonia in a Soccer Player Through an Integrated Rehabilitative Approach: A Case Report

Valeria Giorgi, Giovanni Apostolo, and Laura Bertelè

Context: Sport-related dystonia is a rare form of activity-specific dystonia that can severely impair an athlete’s ability to perform. Due to a lack of data on the condition, it is difficult to diagnose and often overlooked, and no gold standard treatment has yet been defined. Case Presentation: We present a rare and challenging case of sport-related dystonia that affected a 24-year-old male professional soccer player. The patient presented with severe rigidity and dystonia of the right lower-extremity, particularly the ankle and foot. The symptoms set on >1 year prior to the presentation to our outpatient clinic. He began to complain of stiffness and difficulty moving his lower limbs, especially his right leg, initially when playing soccer, but then also when walking normally. On presentation, he was unable to run and walked with difficulty, supporting his body weight only on the outside of his right foot. He also reported a motor trick and reverse motor trick involving the oral musculature in order to move his lower limb more freely. Management and Outcomes: An integrated rehabilitation approach based on postural rehabilitation, neuromuscular rehabilitation, and dental intervention was used to successfully treat this condition. The approach included: (1) postural rehabilitation with the Mézières-Bertelè method to reduce muscular stiffness, (2) neuromuscular re-education with Tai Chi exercises and electromyography-guided biofeedback, and (3) dental intervention and swallowing rehabilitation to limit impaired oral habits (due to the relationship between his impaired lower limb movements and motor tricks of the oral musculature). After 7 months of integrated rehabilitation, the patient returned to professional soccer. Conclusions: This case report highlights the potential efficacy of an integrative rehabilitation approach for sports dystonia, particularly in cases where traditional treatments may not be effective. Such an approach could be considered a valuable option in the management of this rare, but debilitating, condition in athletes. Further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of this approach in larger populations.

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Continuing Education Assessment

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Volume 29 (2024): Issue 3 (May 2024)

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Volume 33 (2024): Issue 4 (May 2024)

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Adherence and Compliance of Different Delivery Methods of Home Exercise in Individuals With Nonspecific Low Back Pain

Luk Devorski, Aravinthan Suppiah, David H. Fukuda, Jeffrey Stout, Christopher D. Ingersoll, and L. Colby Mangum

Autonomous exercise within nonspecific low back pain rehabilitation is a necessary tool to treat low back pain. The purpose of this study was to quantify adherence and compliance during two different 6-week home-exercise programs. Forty adults were randomly allocated to a gamified and packet group. Adherence, compliance, and system usability assessments occurred after 3 and 6 weeks. Packet group adherence was similar at 3 weeks and at 6 weeks. System usability was significantly greater at 6 weeks than at 3 weeks in the packet group. Adherence or compliance was not influenced. The usability of the intervention methodology was considered great by both groups.

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Effect of Mindful Sports Performance Enhancement in College Athletes for Reducing Sports-Caused Anxiety and Improving Self-Awareness: A Critically Appraised Topic

Shivam Garg, Nancy A. Uriegas, Zachary K. Winkelmann, Morgan Adams, and Amy L. Fraley

Mindful Sports Performance Enhancement (MSPE) training is a relatively new concept, which focuses on helping athletes manage a variety of stressors experienced throughout a season, including performing well academically, staying fit, having a productive season in their sport, and maintaining a healthy social life. A need for a critical appraisal is needed to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. Two cohort studies and one randomized control trial were included in the study and assessed using STROBE and PEDro Scale. Key results show, all 3 studies identified participants experiencing benefits after MSPE with aspects of awareness, acceptance, and emotion regulation. Furthermore, student-athletes who attended either all the sessions or more sessions after the 6-week course showed greater satisfaction with mental and physical health. Overall, there is level “B” evidence to support effectiveness of MSPE for college athletes in reducing sport anxiety and improving their overall well-being.

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Relationships Among Baseline Concussion Balance Test and Gaze Stability Test Scores in Division-I Collegiate Athletes

Carolina P. Quintana, Anne D. Olson, Nicholas R. Heebner, and Matthew C. Hoch

Context: Sports-related concussions are commonly occurring injuries as a result of sports and recreation that may cause alterations in brain functioning. It is important to be able to evaluate the impact of these injuries on function to manage the injury recovery and ensure recovery. Recent literature suggests the use of objective evaluation strategies in a multifaceted approach to evaluate and manage these injuries. It is important to understand the relationships between the assessments and how best to utilize each assessment. The purpose of this study was to investigate if relationships exist between measures of vestibular function at baseline in assessments that may be used following sports-related concussions. Additionally, a secondary purpose was to determine if self-reported symptoms were related to performance on the assessments. This study aimed to identify if these assessments measured independent functions of the vestibulo–ocular reflex or if some redundancy existed among the assessment strategies. Design: A cross-sectional study design was used in a cohort of collegiate athletes ages 18–24. Methods: Participants completed demographics questionnaires, the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale, Gaze Stabilization Test, and Concussion Balance Test. Spearman rho correlations were used to examine the relationships between the measures. Results: One hundred and thirty-five collegiate athletes (82 males and 53 females) were included, representative of 3 sports (cheerleading, soccer, and football) with a mean age of 19.77 (1.42) years old. There were weak to moderate, significant relationships between measures of Gaze Stabilization Test and Concussion Balance Test errors (r = .20–.31, P = .001–.03). Conclusions: The direction of these relationships indicated that greater Concussion Balance Test errors were associated with greater Gaze Stabilization Test performance. These relationships may be attributed to the difficulty created by the foam conditions and the integration of more complex sensory tasks required to maintain balance during the more difficult conditions.